Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Battle of the Sexes Will Soon be Over (at least for movie watching!)

Differences in taste between men and women often spill over into full-blown battles. These battles are common on Saturday nights when you try to find a movie to watch (and you discover that your preferences don't exactly overlap).

I hated it! Why can't we find movies we'll both like?

Couples usually respond to these differences with the most basic form of compromise: one person gives up. The man goes to see a chick-flick or the woman goes to see a shoot-em-up. After the movie, the discussion isn't about the movie, but about who gave up what for whom. No one gets what they want (during or after the movie).

Our analysis suggests that those days will soon be over, although we have a bit more work to do to make it happen. Instead of going to a movie that one of you will love and the other will hate, we can mathematically calculate a better solution: a movie you'll both love.

By mapping the taste of male and female viewers and then comparing their "taste maps," we can actually calculate the common ground and make peace between the sexes.

Of course, the analysis below is about "men" and "women," and these are generalizations. If you want to know specifically the best movies for you and YOUR date, we're working on that too.

Here's what we've learned about male and female viewers and how we can help -- it all starts with taste maps.

We developed Reaction Mapping™ technology that can help you visualize taste. We use it to map individual taste, shared taste, or the combined taste of a group of people. For more on how we build taste maps, see last week's post.

We can map men and women's movie taste based on a list of their favorite movies (we used a list published by Stuart Fischoff and associates -- if you want to see the list, here's their paper).


Male Movie-Taste Map

The background of the map (the red text and the blue dots) is the "universe" of movie taste, from musicals at the top right to prison movies on the bottom left. The words in red give a general idea of each part of the map. Each little blue dot is actually a tiny set of 3 words describing a very specific nanogenre™ movie collection. Our algorithms put similar nanogenre collections together and push different ones apart to create the map.

The green and yellow shading is a "heat map" showing the taste of male viewers. Green shows areas of interest, and yellow shows high levels of interest (a more detailed description of taste maps was in my previous post).

You can see on the male movie-taste map above that the favorite movies of male viewers have themes between action-cops and near war. Here are some examples of the nanogenre words that describe the highest points:

    explosives, exciting, and speed
    comic-book, hero, and exciting
    technological, sci-fi, and excitement

    war, democracy, and America
    combat, patriotism, and officer

These high points are pretty different from those of female viewers.

Female Movie-Taste-Map

Hardly any action or cops, and the most intense shading is over serious dramas about families and relationships, described by words like:

    feelings, marriage, and passion
    touching, families, and child
    tear-jerker, uplifting, and struggles

Interesting that "horror" shows up for women and not for men -- it turns out that Silence of the Lambs and Ghost were among the top movies chosen by women.

The yellow high points near "war" on the map aren't your basic guns-and-bombs war movies, they're "dramas" (you know, with emotional conflict and even some character growth):

    ships, heroic, and sacrifice
    democracy, facts, and freedom

Admit it -- when you read the words above for either men or women, you cringed, knowing that the men's highest points were for movies like The Avengers, Mission: Impossible, Minority Report, and The Hurt Locker, while for women it was movies like Sex and the City, Love Comes Softly, and A Night to Remember. I know which set I'd wait in line for...

The good news about the tools we've developed is that we can also mathematically combine these taste maps to look for specific areas of overlap. No longer do men and women have to suffer by going together to "explosive, speed" movies or "tear-jerker uplifting" movies. We can draw a taste map for the overlap between men and women's favorite movies.

Male-Female SHARED Movie-Taste-Map

Something of a surprise, the biggest overlap is actually near "war." That is not to say that you'd both enjoy a Combat remake, but instead you have to drill down to find the nanogenre movie collections that fit both of you. They have descriptions like:

    civilian, brave, and enemies
    epic, fought, and glory
    army, historical, and heroic

with movies like Brothers, The Last of the Mohicans, and Braveheart.

Above "war," there is a smaller pale yellow shared-taste area with words like:

    feelings, passionate, and tragic
    historic, intrigue, and gorgeous

with movies like The Man in the Iron Mask and TV shows like The Tudors.

There are action, cop, and sci-fi movies that aren't only for men. And yes... there are even relationship movies that men will enjoy, like the TV show Six Feet Under or the movie Legends of the Fall.

These are all movies that both men and women can enjoy, and there are lots more. So next time, instead of going to a movie that one of you will hate, find one you'll both like! Think how much more fun the rest of your evening will be.

Leave a comment or email me (rmarch at nanocrowd.com) if you'd like to see your own taste map. If you'd like help planning a date with someone in particular, with a little more work we can create both of your individual taste maps and find your shared taste. It'll be a while before we can generate these maps on our site, but in the meantime it's fun for us to see and compare them, so we're happy to do them for the first people who respond.

posted by Roderic March

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nanocrowd Taste Maps Let You Visualize Your Movie Taste

We're putting the finishing touches on our Nanocrowd Taste Maps, and we'll be talking a lot about all the great things you can do with them. I thought it'd be valuable to start by explaining how we build them and describing what's unique about them.

To build a map of your taste (or your friends' taste), we needed to start with a background map of the "universe" of taste.

Background Map -- The Taste Universe

We use our Reaction Mapping™ technology (based on viewer comments) to figure out the mathematical relationship among all of the reactions people have had to thousands of movies and TV shows. Each blue dot on the map above is a nanogenre™ collection of movies -- a little tiny genre, described with words like "emotional, anticipation & riveting" or "cops, solving & convoluted." In the image below, we've blown up a small portion of the map to show the Nanogenre words. These words come directly from viewer commentary left on sites like IMDb, Yahoo, and MSN.

Those blue dots are actually 3-word descriptions!

We place each of these nanogenre collections on the background map, using a mathematical algorithm that tries to keep similar ones together and pushes different ones apart. You can see how the most popular genres create dense clouds of blue dots (like constellations of stars in the sky). In the image above, the most dense of these constellations is around comedy, and there's another dense constellation nestled between horror and gory.

When I show people this background map, they usually assume that the dots on the map are movies. They expect the map to show the relationship between individual movies. There is a good reason why the dots aren't movies, and this is one of the most important differences between Reaction Mapping technology and other movie recommendation tools.

By mapping nanogenres instead of movies, we can develop much more powerful analytics. Every movie has more than one facet -- The Blind Side is inspiring-team-teenager-determination-family-heartwarming; Titanic is a touching-historical-thrilling-tear-jerker-romance. Instead of finding one place on the map for these movies, we map all their facets. Not only does this describe and map movies more richly, but it enables a better understanding of individual taste. Just because you like The Blind Side, we don't assume you like teenager movies. We let the facets of your taste be as varied as the facets of movies.

To understand this better, in the empty universe map above try to find the single spot where a movie like 2001: A Space Odyssey would go. Is it sci-fi? Aliens? Gripping? Of course it is (and more).

Reaction Map for 2001: A Space Odyssey

In this map, we adding shading (using heat map technology) to display the range of reactions viewers had to the single movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The heat map shades all the parts of the map that fit this movie, and by using yellow or red it can also show intensity. Not surprising, the most intense area of this heat map is between sci-fi and aliens, but there are lots of other facets displayed for this great movie, including action, gripping, and more.

In case you're wondering, that green spot off to the left is "religion, philosophy & thought-provoking" -- I think Stanley Kubrick would be pleased that viewers understood and described that facet of his movie!

To build a taste map for a person, all we need to do is add more movies. For example, if we include 10 of my favorite sci-fi movies:

    2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
    Blade Runner (1982)
    Inception (2010)
    Minority Report (2002)
    The Terminator (1984)
    The Matrix (1999)
    Twelve Monkeys (1995)
    Total Recall (1990)
    Battlestar Galactica (2004)
    Gattaca (1997)

we get this heat map:

Reaction map for 10 of my favorite sci-fi titles

Because of the 10 sci-fi movies I chose, the most intense part of this heat map is action -- very different from the heat map for 2001: A Space Odyssey by itself.

Of course, I enjoy lots of movies other than sci-fi. To build a taste map that captures me, we add all the movies I've seen (or at least the 800+ I've marked as seen at our beta site. Below is the result.

My Taste Map, based on 800+ movies I've seen

Even with over 800 movies, you can see my taste is still most concentrated around action, but there is another high point up by comedy, and I enjoy my fair share of drama as well. With a quick glance at this map, you can tell a lot about my taste in movies.

Imagine comparing your taste map to other people's -- think of the questions you could answer:

  • Are you and your friend (or spouse!) compatible?
  • What movies would you like to watch together?
  • What movie will everyone in a group of friends enjoy?
  • Which of your Facebook friends share your movie taste?
  • Should I trust your movie recommendations?

    It should come as no surprise that one of the first applications we're exploring is matching people to each other and finding movies they'll enjoy together by focusing on where their taste overlaps.

    However, since taste maps are based on lists of movies, we can also use them to compare and analyze other collections of movies. For example:

  • How does taste vary by age and gender or by region or other demographic segment?
  • How does Lionsgate compare to Paramount?
  • Which types of movies win academy awards and how do they compare to boxoffice winners?

    We're only beginning to imagine all the uses for taste maps, and there's no shortage of interesting ideas!

    Leave a comment or email me (rmarch at nanocrowd.com) if you'd like to see your taste map. It'll be a while before we can generate them on our site, but in the meantime it's fun for us to see and compare them, so we're happy to do them for the first people who respond.

    posted by Roderic March

  • Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    Tech won't kill Hollywood (and shouldn't want to).

    For several years there has been an increasing buzz that tech is going to kill Hollywood. The buzz reached a recent frenzy led by Y Combinator's call to action.

    There are three reasons that I don't think tech will kill Hollywood:

    3) "Hollywood" is more than a city or few big studios.
    OK, I know there IS a city called Hollywood, but people in the tech world seem to imagine Hollywood is a few companies led by cigar-smoking, tuxedo'd fat cats.

    In fact, Hollywood isn't an entity at all (and lots of the activity that we call Hollywood happens miles, states, and countries away). Hollywood is a sometimes collaborative, usually disunited, and often antagonistic worldwide collection of movie studios, TV studios (big and small), distribution companies, creative agencies, producers, and artists of all kinds. Leaders from each of these ranks routinely shift from one role to another.

    Many of these people and companies already embrace tech. In his post titled An Accelerator for Entertainment, Nick DeMartino suggests that some of Hollywood's forward thinkers should fund an entertainment accelerator of their own. This is an interesting idea, and I know it will appeal to many tech companies.

    Of course there are leaders in Hollywood who are trying to cling to rights and distribution models that are changing underneath them. This is nothing new -- TV, VCRs, DVDs, and now Streaming and YouTube all looked to some like Hollywood-killers. In every industry there are people who resist change and others who embrace it.

    Just yesterday Techcrunch TV (which is itself an example of content distribution disruption!) published Greg Barto's interview with Brent Weinstein and Eric Kuhn of UTA, one of Hollywood's most powerful creative agencies. They talk about their excitement and enthusiasm for the opportunities new technology will bring. When disruptive tech arrives in Hollywood, it initially looks like a threat, but eventually the revenue from the new technology becomes too enticing and industry and power structure shifts until the people who embraced the shift become leaders. Maybe there's a movie idea in there: the sheep in wolf's clothing...

    2) Technology will make Hollywood richer.
    The issue that always gets in the way of change is fear. Fear of losing power. Fear of losing revenue. Of course, this fear is also always justified - change usually does mean a shift and the loss of revenue in one arena. However, once license and distribution rights have realigned, this fear changes to excitement as opportunities for new revenue are discovered. I don't have a crystal ball, but I believe that the future of Hollywood includes an exciting period where content producers and owners can close the gap between themselves and their customers, driven by technology like Nanocrowd's.

    With new technology and a new distribution model, the studios could actually reach the business model they envisioned a century ago -- a much closer relationship between their content and their consumers. There will be lots of disruption along the way, with some individuals and companies failing and others succeeding, but once it settles out, there will be plenty of entertainment being consumed generating plenty of revenue for the people who can see where we are going.

    1) We love quality, high-production-value entertainment!
    And the number one reason Hollywood won't die is that we love it! Sure, entertainment attention spans are dropping and there will be more short content competing with traditional movie and TV formats. Of course, social networking will change the way we share and enjoy entertainment.

    Even so, without the commercial mashup we call Hollywood, how would movies like Avatar or Inception be produced? How would parents and their children laugh together at Rio or Rango? Who would take us on adventures like Harry Potter or Pirates of the Caribbean? From movies to TV and even advertising, we depend on the sophisticated, expensive production values of Hollywood. YouTube videos are wonderfully fun and funny, but they just don't transport us the way Hollywood can.

    posted by Roderic March

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Nanocrowd Movie Search App for iPad is now available (and free!) in the Apple App Store

    We've just launched our first iPad app, and it's available free in the Apple App Store.

    Easy to use
    Using the new Nanocrowd Movie Search app is easy -- enter the name of a movie you love and we'll suggest several channels that capture why other people enjoyed that movie. Pick the channel that matches your interest (and your mood) and then click on any of the movies in the list to get more information or to watch it on your iPad.

    Here's a short demo/how-to video (try fullscreen and HD for the best view).

    To watch all the movies in our application, you'll need an iPad and a Netflix streaming account.

    We know WHY people like things
    The new app is built with Reaction Mapping® technology, which we developed to analyze viewer comments about movies. These comments capture people's reactions to movies, and analyzing them allows Nanocrowd to understand not only what movies people enjoy, but also why they enjoy them. Understanding why is crucial because movies evoke a variety of feelings and emotions that are complex and can’t be captured by ratings or rental histories. More about our Reaction Mapping tech can be found at a previous blog post.

    Watching movies instantly is a click away
    Every movie in the Nanocrowd movie search app is available to watch instantly on an iPad from sites like Netflix, YouTube, and Internet Archive (with more sites planned).

    Of course, we want to do lots more than just help you search for a movie, so we're already working on the next update to our app, where you'll be able to save the channels you like and then we'll automatically alert you if there are new movies available in your favorite channels. If you'd like an invitation to become a beta tester for this update, you can click on the links in the search app or send us an email now.

    I hope you have fun with our new app!

    posted by Roderic March

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Nanocrowd demo at APPNATIONIII

    Nanocrowd was selected to demo at the APPNATIONIII conference on Wednesday 11/30/2011 in San Francisco. APPNATION is an executive conference and exposition focused on the consumer applications economy. Over 3000 developers, carriers, product/service providers, buyers and investors attended previous APPNATION conference and expos. We are excited to be going this year, because their theme is "Show me the money," and that is a core issue facing all mobile app developers today.
    No, that's not me at the demo pod ;-)

    We'll be demoing our search.nanocrowd.com webapp as well as previewing our upcoming myChannels application. I hope you can come by and see me or our CEO, Roderic March at our demo pod in the Mobile Monday Village.
    posted by Laura Torres

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Great time at SenchaCon2011

    Doug Millasich and I wandered down to Austin this week to speak at SenchaCon2011, Sencha's annual US developer conference. It was a great conference, and not only did we get the latest news about Sencha and their products, we also met lots of other folks who are building their mobile applications with Sencha Touch.

    Sencha looks like it's going to continue to be a great platform with lots to offer, and we remain pleased with our decision to build our products using their app framework. We're looking forward to enhancing upcoming products with the new features and improvements coming with Sencha Touch 2.0.

    We also enjoyed what a great music-town Austin is. We wandered the street and hear some fabulous music at the Dia de los Muertes festival downtown, and Sencha invited all the conference attendees to Stubbs for barbecue and live music by Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears. It seemed like there was live music at every corner and in every restaurant. What a delight.
    posted by Roderic March

    Tuesday, October 25, 2011

    Nanocrowd launches iPad movie search app

    Before Nanocrowd
    It’s Friday night after a long week. You just want to grab something to drink, sit down, and watch a movie. Nothing too deep. Nothing violent. Maybe a comedy. And so the thought process continues as you get online and start searching for something to watch. Simple. Then it happens. 10 minutes goes by, then 20. Frustrated you think, “There’s nothing to watch!” On to plan B: Checking e-mail, trolling the web, World of Warcraft, scrolling through your TV channels.

    After Nanocrowd
    Picking up your shiny new iPad, you point your browser to search.nanocrowd.com and type in “The Proposal” – a movie you loved. “Chemistry Sweet Adorable” sounds like what you’re in the mood for. You see a channel full of movies which include some of your all-time favorites. But then you notice one you haven't seen “One Fine Day” – Hmm… something you may not have thought of, but it sounds good. You watch the trailer and decide to watch it instantly. Nanocrowd launches the movie, available from Netflix, and off you go to enjoy your movie. No login. No hassle.

    Available today
    If you have an iPad and love to watch movies but hate the hassle of searching and finding one to watch, pull out your iPad, open Safari, and browse to our new movie-search application (search.nanocrowd.com). We currently link to movies from Netflix and YouTube, and we're working on linking to more sources.

    At Nanocrowd, we actually understand why people like movies (for more details, see our earlier blog post) and because we understand why, we can make quick and accurate movie recommendations without the need for you to give us pages of profile data or provide us with movie ratings.

    We know that on Friday night, after a long week, you’d rather be watching a movie than spending time looking for one. Try it out and tell us what you think.

    posted by Roderic March